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CDC warns of multistate outbreak of B. cepacia possibly tied to liquid docusate



July 12, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a joint warning for a multistate outbreak of Burkholderia cepacia infections (also known as B. cepacia complex).


To date, 47 B. cepacia cases have been confirmed from health care facilities in five states. Reports of possible cases from additional states are currently being investigated. CDC has confirmed that two samples of unused oral liquid docusate product received from one of the affected hospitals have tested positive for B. cepacia complex.


B. cepacia is a gram-negative bacterium found in soil and moist environments that is known to cause various types of infections, including catheter-associated infections and respiratory tract infections in hospitalized patients. Although healthy individuals are not affected in most cases, those who are immunocompromised are at particular risk, as are patients with chronic respiratory illnesses, especially those with cystic fibrosis.


Infections caused by B. cepacia are often resistant to multiple antibiotics and can be life-threatening. In light of the organism's high level of transmissibility, health care facilities should apply stringent infection control measures in the presence of infection.


Pending further investigation, CDC recommends that clinicians not use any liquid docusate product as a stool softener or for any other medical purpose. Additional testing is being conducted to determine if bacteria from the docusate samples match the outbreak strains.


For more information on the infection outbreak, see the CDC website.

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